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Politics in City Hall? You bet!

The news is that Common Council members want the feds to roll up their sleeves and take an unprecedented look at how City Hall spends block grant dollars and operates its two primary economic development agencies.

Reports my colleague Brian Meyer:

Five Buffalo lawmakers are calling for the federal government to conduct a full-blown audit of the city's anti-poverty programs.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's has already issued a report that highlighted 19 deficiencies in the way Buffalo has spent block grant money. But members of the Common Council's ruling majority don't think the federal report went far enough in scrutinizing spending and lending practices at the Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corp. and the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency.

The city lawmakers are sending a letter to HUD Inspector General Kenneth M. Donohue Sr., asking him to take the "extraordinary step" of performing a "full and complete audit."

The irony is the Brown administration claiming it's all political.

"This is yet another example of Council Member Kearns' thinly veiled political agenda masquerading as good government," said Peter K. Cutler. "With Mickey, it's all politics, all the time."

Now, it's pretty obvious that the call by Kearns and Delaware Council Member Mike LoCurto, among otheers, for a federal review serves Kearns' political interests, given that he's running against Brown for mayor. No disputing that.

But, come on.

First off, after Brown got elected, he hired his campaign manager as his deputy mayor. Deputy Mayor Steve Casey is now functioning, so far as we can tell, as campaign manager. A perfect circle.

Together, Brown and Casey have politicized City Hall beyond its normal state of affairs, which is saying a lot. Just ask all the city employees being "encouraged" to work on Brown's re-election campaign, right down to "suggestions" of how many hours a week they might "volunteer" and what days and times they might do so.  

Second, given that federal audits have time and time again found fault with the city's management of the block grant program -- 19 serious problems, according to the latest review -- and the fiasco involving One Sunset, does anyone seriously believe there are not problems worthy of a look-see beyond what the understaffed city comptroller can provide?

Keep in mind that the first response by the Brown administration to the critical HUD audit issued this spring wasn't to call his people together to talk about how they could fix the problems. No, it was to pick up the phone and try and silence the local HUD office.

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City Hall | Politics
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